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Back behind the wheel: The nervous system and spinal health

The human body is an amazing creation that has evolved over time to be the most advanced machine on earth today....

The human body is an amazing creation that has evolved over time to be the most advanced machine on earth today.

At any given moment billions of cells are working simultaneously together in order for you to see, hear, feel, breathe and think.

Your nervous system is responsible for coordinating and controlling all of these events allowing your body to function, on a day to day basis.

However, any type of irritation, impingement or injury to the nervous system may decrease your body’s ability to function optimally, which may lead to disease, pain and poor health.

The nervous system can be subdivided into three distinct regions: the central; the peripheral and the autonomic nervous systems. Although all three are located in different areas, they are all interrelated.

The central nervous system is composed of the spinal cord and brain.

The spinal cord acts as a medium for information to be transferred to and from the brain.

The brain is the control center of the entire body.

It is responsible for interpreting, sensing, monitoring and initiating various activities which are necessary for the body to function.

Any damage or blockage to any of the nerves along this pathway will directly affect the body.

Think of the body as a big electrical circuit. If there is a disruption anywhere along the circuit, electricity cannot be delivered past this point.

The body is somewhat the same. If there is total disruption of flow of nerve impulses, due to any type of physical or chemical change, information cannot be delivered to and from the brain past this point.

As a result, motor and sensory input/output cannot be given or received.

If a person is paralyzed, he or she has had some type of physical damage to their central nervous system.

The location of the injury will determine the severity of paralysis. If the spinal cord is injured higher up (or closer to) the brain, the more disability he or she will have.

The central nervous system is protected by your spine and skull.

The skull houses the brain which is connected to the spinal cord.

Your spinal cord is protected by your spine, which is divided into six regions (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx).

Your spine functions as a physical barrier for your spinal cord which travels through the bones, protecting it from any type of trauma.

The central nervous system is connected to the peripheral nervous system.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of nerves that radiate from the central nervous system to all parts of the body.

Each nerve carries both sensory and motor information to and from the central nervous system. Each pair of nerves has a distinct path and innervates a specific area of the body.

For example, if your baby finger is numb but your first two fingers are normal, then you know that there may be a nerve pinched or irritated at C7 and T1 (cervical and thoracic).

So the next time that your doctor asks you where the pain is, be specific, this will help him or her get a better picture of what is actually happening and what nerves may be affected.

Inevitably this will help them diagnose you more accurately, resulting in you being treated more effectively.

The autonomic nervous system is the third region of the nervous system, which can be further subdivided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls your digestion, heart rate, salivary glands, etc.

A simple rule: anything that you ‘just do’ without having to think about and is necessary for the body to function, is probably innervated by the autonomic nervous system.

So why is taking care of your nervous system so important?

As you can see, your nervous system is responsible for all of your bodily functions.

Due to the daily stresses of life your spine and muscles are susceptible to injury.

This in turn will directly affect the motion of your spine which can irritate the nerves, causing pain and other disorders (headaches, numbness).

It has also been theorized that poor nerve function may also have an effect on your digestion, immunity and any other facet of your health.

Most people do not realize the importance of good spinal health and the relationship it has with the overall functioning of your nervous system.

Regular chiropractic adjustments along with massage therapy and an exercise/nutrition regimen will all work together to help ensure good spinal health, which will directly influence and also help maintain a healthy nervous system.

Until next month, take care and drive safely!

– Dr. Jerry Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 1 888 252-7327, or e-mail

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